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人道 is literally the "The Way of Being Human," or "The Human Way." It can also be translated as "humanity."
人道 has a secondary meaning of "sidewalk" as in "the way for people to walk" (in Japanese and Korean only). But as calligraphy artwork, nobody will read it with that translation.
Please note that there are two ways to Romanized Dao or Tao as in Daoism = Taoism. It's the same word in Chinese.
心道 means "The Way of the Heart" or "The Way of the Soul." The first character means "heart" but can also mean soul, spirit, mind, or your essence. In this case, it is most accurately translated with the heart or soul meaning.
The second character is Dao as in Daoism. Please note, this is the same thing as Tao as in Taoism (just Romanized differently - it's always been the same in Chinese for about 2300 years.
This is an except from the 67th Chapter of Lao Tzu's (Lao Zi's) Te-Tao Ching (Dao De Jing). This is the part where the three treasures are discussed. In English, we'd say these three treasures are compassion, frugality, and humility. Some may translate these as love, moderation, and lack of arrogance. I have also seen them translated as benevolence, modesty, and "Not presuming to be at the forefront in the world." You can mix them up the way you want, as translation is not really a science but rather an art.
I should also explain that the first two treasures are single-character ideas, yet the third treasure was written out in six characters (there are also some auxiliary characters to number the treasures).
If Lao Tzu's words are important to you, then a wall scroll with this passage might make a great addition to your home.
This is referred to as passage or chapter 33 of the Dao De Jing (often Romanized as "Tao Te Ching").
These are the words of the philosopher Laozi (Lao Tzu).
During our research, the Chinese characters shown here are probably the most accurate to the original text of Laozi. These were taken for the most part from the Mawangdui 1973 and Guodan 1993 manuscripts which pre-date other Daodejing texts by about 1000 years.
Grammar was a little different in Laozi's time. So you should consider this to be the ancient Chinese version. Some have modernized this passage by adding, removing, or swapping articles and changing the grammar (we felt the oldest and most original version would be more desirable). You may find other versions printed in books or online - sometimes these modern texts are simply used to explain to Chinese people what the original text really means.
This language issue can be compared in English by thinking how the King James (known as the Authorized version in Great Britain) Bible from 1611 was written, and comparing it to modern English. Now imagine that the Daodejing was probably written around 403 BCE (2000 years before the King James Version of the Bible). To a Chinese person, the original Daodejing reads like text that is 3 times more detached compared to Shakespeare's English is to our modern-day speech.
While on this Biblical text comparison, it should be noted, that just like the Bible, all the original texts of the Daodejing were lost or destroyed long ago. Just as with the scripture used to create the Bible, various manuscripts exist, many with variations or copyist errors. Just as the earliest New Testament scripture (incomplete) is from 170 years after Christ, the earliest Daodejing manuscript (incomplete) is from 100-200 years after the death of Laozi.
The reason that the originals were lost probably has a lot to do with the first Qin Emperor. Upon taking power and unifying China, he ordered the burning and destruction of all books (scrolls/rolls) except those pertaining to Chinese medicine and a few other subjects. The surviving Daodejing manuscripts were either hidden on purpose or simply forgotten about. Some were not unearthed until as late as 1993.
We compared a lot of research by various archeologists and historians before deciding on this as the most accurate and correct version. But one must allow that it may not be perfect, or the actual and original as from the hand of Laozi himself.
刀 is the Japanese Kanji for "sword." This refers to the style of sword carried by warriors, samurai, and shogun of ancient Japan.
With the pacification of Japan, such swords are now only used for ceremony and decoration. The true art of sword-smithing is all but lost in Japan with new sword production dedicated to making inexpensive replicas for the tourist and foreign market.
For those of you that want to ask whether I can get you a real antique sword. Let me tell you that most real Asian swords were melted down after WWII in Japan, and during the Great Leap Forward in China. Any remaining swords are family heirlooms that nobody will part with.
Please carefully note that the Japanese kanji character shown above is only for a Japanese audience. In China, this character means "knife." See our other entry for "sword" in Chinese.
Note: 刀 can mean knife, sword, or blade in Korean, depending on context.
See Also: Sword
This is the Mawangdui version of Daodejing chapter 81.
道 is the character "dao" which is sometimes written as "tao" but pronounced like "dow" in Mandarin.
道 is the base of what is known as "Taoism." If you translate this literally, it can mean "the way" or "the path."
Dao is believed to be that which flows through all things, and keeps them in balance. It incorporates the ideas of yin and yang (e.g. there would be no love without hate, no light without dark, no male without female.)
The beginning of Taoism can be traced to a mystical man named
Lao Zi (604-531 BC), who followed, and added to the teachings of Confucius.
More about Taoism / Daoism here.
Note that this is pronounced "dou" and sometimes "michi" when written alone in Japanese but pronounced "do" in word compounds such as Karate-do and Bushido. It's also "do" in Korean.
Alternate translations and meanings: road, way, path; truth, principle province.
Important Japanese note: In Japanese, this will generally be read with the road, way, or path meaning. Taoism is not as popular or well-known in Japan, so that Daoist/Taoist philosophy is not the first thing a Japanese person will think of then they read this character.
See our Taoism Page
These two characters most clearly express the Confucian philosophy of filial piety. Confucius taught that all should be respectful and obedient to their parents. Included in this idea is honoring your ancestors.
The second character is "dao/tao" or "the way" as in Taoism. You can say this title is "The Tao of Filial Piety" or "The Way of Filial Piety."
See Also: Confucius
This proverb from the Analects of Confucius translates as:
Resolve yourself in the Dao/Tao/Way.
Rely on Virtue.
Reside in benevolence.
Revel in the arts.
According to Confucius, these are the tenets of good and proper conduct.
This was written over 2500 years ago. The composition is in ancient Chinese grammar and phrasing. A modern Chinese person would need a background in Chinese literature to understand this without the aid of a reference.
光道館 is Kodokan. 光道館 is the title of an Aikido dojo, studio, or hall.
Be careful in selecting the correct Kodokan, as there are two different titles that romanize as Kodokan.
Here's how the characters break down in meaning for this one:
1. Light / Bright
2. Way / Path (the Tao/Dao as in Taoism/Daoism)
3. Schoolroom / Building / Establishment / Mansion / Hall (of learning)
Altogether, you get something like, "The Path of Light Establishment."
啤酒 means beer in Chinese.
This can refer to virtually any fermented grain-based alcoholic beverage that has bubbles. So this includes all kinds of ales and lagers.
In China, the grains used for beer sometimes include rice. But even in Chinese beer, the concept is the same - beer must be made with hops and yeast.
Beer was the third word I learned in Chinese, and I've toured 3 different breweries in China, Tsing Tao, Lao Shan, and Yanjing. I've done my research on this calligraphy entry!
This title refers to a certain kind or school of Judo martial arts.
Here's how the characters break down in meaning for this one:
1. Mutual Assistance or Association. Can also refer to a lecture, speech, or explaining something (as in teaching).
2. Way / Path (the Tao/Dao as in Taoism/Daoism)
3. Schoolroom / Building / Establishment / Mansion / Small Castle / Hall (of learning)
Altogether, you get something like, "The Path of Mutual Learning Hall."
More about Kodokan from the Institute of Kodokan.
In Buddhism, this is mahābhūta, the four elements of which all things are made: earth, water, fire, and wind.
This can also represent the four freedoms: speaking out freely, airing views fully, holding great debates, and writing big-character posters.
In some context, this can be a university or college offering four-year programs.
To others, this can represent the Tao, Heaven, Earth and King.
Going back to the Buddhist context, these four elements "earth, water, fire, and wind" represent 堅, 濕, 煖, 動, which is: solid, liquid, heat, and motion.
慈 is the simplest way to express the idea of compassion. It can also mean love for your fellow humans, humanity, or living creatures. Sometimes this is extended to mean charity.
This term is often used with Buddhist or Christian context. The concept was also spoken of by Laozi (Lao Tzu) in the Dao De Jing (Tao Te Ching).
慈 is considered the direct translation of the Sanskrit word मैत्री (maitrī) Pali word मेत्ता (mettā). In this context, it means benevolence, loving-kindness, and good will.
This Chinese character is understood in Japanese but is usually used in compound words (not seen alone). Also used in old Korean Hanja, so it's very universal.
Wu Wei is a Daoist (Taoist) tenet, that speaks to the idea of letting nature take its course.
Some will say it's about knowing when to take action and when not to. In reality, it's more about not going against the flow. What is going to happen is controlled by the Dao (Tao), for which one who follows the Dao will not resist or struggle against.
There is a lot more to this concept but chances are, if you are looking for this entry, you already know the expanded concept.
Warning: Outside of Daoist context, this means idleness or inactivity (especially in Japanese where very few know this as a Daoist concept).
跆拳道 is one of the most widespread types of martial arts in the world as well as being an Olympic sport. Taekwondo was born in Korea with influences of Chinese and Japanese styles, combined with traditional Korean combat skills. Some will define it as the "Korean art of empty-handed self-defense."
In the simplest translation, the first character means "kick," the second character can mean either "fist" or "punching" the third means "way" or "method." Altogether, you could say this is "Kick Punch Method." When heard or read in various Asian languages, all will automatically think of this famous Korean martial art. It is written the same in Japanese Kanji, Chinese, and Korean Hanja characters - so the appearance of the characters are rather universal. However, you should note that there is another way to write this in modern Korean Hangul characters which looks like the image to the right.
We suggest the original Korean Hanja (Chinese characters) for a wall scroll but if you really need the Hangul version, you must use master calligrapher Xing An-Ping: Order Taekwondo in Korean Hangul
Note: Taekwondo is sometimes Romanized as Tae-Kwondo, Tae Kwon Do, Taekwon-do, Taegwondo, Tae Gweon Do, Tai Kwon Do, Taikwondo, Taekwando, Tae Kwan Do and in Chinese Taiquandao, Tai Quan Dao, Taichuando, or Tai Chuan Tao.
The following table may be helpful for those studying Chinese or Japanese...
|Title||Characters||Romaji(Romanized Japanese)||Various forms of Romanized Chinese|
|The Tao or Dao of Being Human|
|人道||jindou / jindo||rén dào / ren2 dao4 / ren dao / rendao||jen tao / jentao|
Dao of the Heart
|心道||xīn dào / xin1 dao4 / xin dao / xindao||hsin tao / hsintao|
Tao Te Ching
|yī yuē cí èr yuē jiǎn sān yuē bù gǎn wéi tiān xià xiān|
yi1 yue1 ci2 er4 yue1 jian3 san1 yue1 bu4 gan3 wei2 tian1 xia4 xian1
yi yue ci er yue jian san yue bu gan wei tian xia xian
|i yüeh tz`u erh yüeh chien san yüeh pu kan wei t`ien hsia hsien
i yüeh tzu erh yüeh chien san yüeh pu kan wei tien hsia hsien
Tao Te Ching - Chapter 33
|zhī rén zhě zhī yě zì zhī zhě míng yě shèng rén zhě yǒu lì yě zì shèng zhě qiáng yě zhī zú zhě fù yě qiáng xíng zhě yǒu zhì yě bù zhī qí suǒ zhě jiǔ yě sǐ ér bù wáng zhě shòu yě|
zhi1 ren2 zhe3 zhi1 ye3 zi4 zhi1 zhe3 ming2 ye3 sheng4 ren2 zhe3 you3 li4 ye3 zi4 sheng4 zhe3 qiang2 ye3 zhi1 zu2 zhe3 fu4 ye3 qiang2 xing2 zhe3 you3 zhi4 ye3 bu4 zhi1 qi2 suo3 zhe3 jiu3 ye3 si3 er2 bu4 wang2 zhe3 shou4 ye3
zhi ren zhe zhi ye zi zhi zhe ming ye sheng ren zhe you li ye zi sheng zhe qiang ye zhi zu zhe fu ye qiang xing zhe you zhi ye bu zhi qi suo zhe jiu ye si er bu wang zhe shou ye
|chih jen che chih yeh tzu chih che ming yeh sheng jen che yu li yeh tzu sheng che ch`iang yeh chih tsu che fu yeh ch`iang hsing che yu chih yeh pu chih ch`i so che chiu yeh ssu erh pu wang che shou yeh
chih jen che chih yeh tzu chih che ming yeh sheng jen che yu li yeh tzu sheng che chiang yeh chih tsu che fu yeh chiang hsing che yu chih yeh pu chih chi so che chiu yeh ssu erh pu wang che shou yeh
|Katana||刀||katana||dāo / dao1 / dao||tao|
Tao Te Ching Chapter 81
|道||michi / -do||dào / dao4 / dao||tao|
|The Way of the Wave||浪之道||làng zhī dào|
lang4 zhi1 dao4
lang zhi dao
|lang chih tao
|The Dao of Filial Piety||孝道||kou dou / koudou / ko do / kodo||xiào dào / xiao4 dao4 / xiao dao / xiaodao||hsiao tao / hsiaotao|
|The Foundation of Good Conduct||誌于道據于德依于仁遊于藝|
|zhì yú dào jù yú dé yī yú rén yóu yú yì|
zhi4 yu2 dao4 ju4 yu2 de2 yi1 yu2 ren2 you2 yu2 yi4
zhi yu dao ju yu de yi yu ren you yu yi
|chih yü tao chü yü te i yü jen yu yü i|
|kou dou kan|
ko do kan
|Beer||啤酒||pí jiǔ / pi2 jiu3 / pi jiu / pijiu||p`i chiu / pichiu / pi chiu|
|kou dou kan|
ko do kan
|四大||shi dai / shidai||sì dà / si4 da4 / si da / sida||ssu ta / ssuta|
|慈||ji||cí / ci2 / ci||tz`u / tzu|
|mui||wú wéi / wu2 wei2 / wu wei / wuwei|
|Taekwondo||跆拳道||te kon do / tekondo||tái quán dào|
tai2 quan2 dao4
tai quan dao
|t`ai ch`üan tao
tai chüan tao
|In some entries above you will see that characters have different versions above and below a line.|
In these cases, the characters above the line are Traditional Chinese, while the ones below are Simplified Chinese.
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